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Pass Affirmative Action Bill before dissolution – 8th parliament urged

Pass Affirmative Action Bill before dissolution - 8th parliament urged

By: Rachel Kakraba

ABANTU for Development, a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO), on gender and policy advocacy, has reiterated calls for parliament to pass the Affirmative Action Bill, before dissolution, by ending of the year.

It says failure by the eighth parliament to pass the bill which will engender women, persons living with disability and other marginalized groups inclusiveness in governance will erode all the gains made at having the Bill laid in parliament.

Resource Mobilization and Sustainability Manager, Madam Hamida Harrison,

Speaking at a media engagement at its headquarters, in Accra, the Resource Mobilization and Sustainability Manager, Madam Hamida Harrison, said having in place an Affirmative Action Bill will ensure issues of women are well-articulated at decision making table, remove marginalization and discrimination and also promote accountability.

The law will make it binding for governments to meet certain thresholds of women representation unlike policies which many a time are not complied with.                     

Contrary to some suggestions that the bill when passed will see women overtake men, Madam Harrison, said such perceptions are not founded as the bill promotes a gradual women inclusion into the country’s governance structure.

“It’s a framework of gradual gender equality, it’s not something that is coming and saying give the women the power, no!”

Madam Harrison, noted one of the major factors which has hindered progress of the Bill is the constant change of ministers at the Ministry of Gender Children and Social Protection which is spearheading. Noting the significant contributions of some stakeholders especially NGOs in pushing forward the Bill, she said the bill has come a long way and it will be extremely sad not to see it passed before dissolution of the current parliament.

The Bill has already been to parliament for about three times and since 2011 seen various versions but none is yet been passed by Parliament.

“The rule is that every time a new minister comes and there is a bill in the ministry, he or she has to look at it, because it is her signature. That’s that will send it to cabinet so every minister when she comes when she wants to see it and also makes changes”

She said monetization of elections coupled with other socio-cultural factors, have seen women not doing so well in elections and encouraged elected governments to introduce special dispensation under which women participation could be increased, adding doing so will require collaboration from governments, political parties and the populace.

“Special measures can be taken by the state, by the political parties whichever comes to power you can introduce special measures”  

She said the Constitution enjoins governments to remove discrimination and marginalization, and regretted successive governments have done little and called on government to make greater investments into issues of gender equality.  

The Affirmative Action Bill seeks to address the social, cultural, economic and political gender imbalance in Ghana based on the historical discrimination against women.

Last year the Bill was laid in parliament under a certificate of urgency which meant priority was to be given to it in its passage, however, Speaker Alban Bagbin, maintained that a critical Bill like the Affirmative Action would not be passed under a certificate of urgency. He explained the bill needed broader consultations for a well-defined and crafted law. 

The Affirmative Action Bill is one of the Bills Parliament is expected to consider after the House reconvened on Tuesday 11th June 2024.

Meanwhile, during sitting of the House on Friday June 14, 2024, it came up that the Bill which was previously laid for consideration contained some omissions.

Consequently, the Minister of Education was made to stand in the Minister of Gender Children and Social Protection to withdraw the former and to lay a new one, which has been referred by the Speaker, Alban Bagbin, to the gender and children committee for study and report. 

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